Health IT

Asthma UK wants to see more real world validation for connected inhalers

Although a report from the London-based Asthma UK supports the progress of connected devices to manage asthma, it was critical of “piecemeal” solutions that have failed to reduce complexities and guesswork from managing an episodic condition with multiple triggers.

An assessment of 147 apps as part of "The evolution of mobile apps for asthma"

Based on an assessment of 147 apps as part of the published study, “The evolution of mobile apps for asthma

Asthma UK’s report on digital health and its ability to improve the treatment of asthma patients treads familiar ground with its call for more contextualized information and testing in real world settings to validate connected devices. It echoes similar calls by clinicians, such as Dr. Michael Blum at University of California San Francisco, for digital health companies targeting asthma and other chronic condition patient populations from diabetes to congestive heart failure.

The report estimates the global population with asthma at 300 million. It called for further testing of digital health apps for asthma in real world settings within the National Health Service to demonstrate proof of concept. The report also highlighted the need for health apps to accurately relay environmental
information to people at imminent risk of exposure to prevent attacks.

Kay Boycott, CEO of London, UK-based Asthma UK, said there were too many examples where “information on repeat asthma attacks are not being relayed to the right healthcare professional,” and highlighted the problem of patients lacking an asthma action plan.

“There have been some promising developments in asthma, as you will see in this report, but for now they remain piecemeal and have failed to reduce the complexities and guesswork from managing an episodic condition with multiple triggers and complex treatment.”

Companies such as Evidation Health and other clinical validation institutions have set a goal to do just that. Propeller Health, Cohero Health, CapMedic, Adherium, and Teva-owned Gecko Health Innovations, which produces CareTRx, were among the companies highlighted in the report.  Propeller has collaborated with pharma companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline.

Last week, AstraZeneca joined the connected inhaler fray in a collaboration with Quintiles to do a year-long study of AstraZeneca’s Symbicort inhalers with BreatheMate for COPD patients. The push for connected inhalers to support remote monitoring for medication adherence and provide more contextualized information on asthma and COPD attacks is viewed not only as a way to improve adherence, adjust dosages and identify patterns in attacks, but also as a  way for pharma companies to quantify the effectiveness of their drugs.

The report noted that asthma medication needs to be delivered “variably to manage an individual’s asthma pattern”. The variety of inhalers, which come with their own dosage and instructions, poses a challenge for ensuring that patients get the right treatment when they need it.

Parks Associates offered some stats on asthma and connected health in the U.S. market. It noted that 39 percent of asthma patients would like to understand how better daily routines can help them improve their health and that one in four asthma patients would welcome doctor-recommended programs to help them manage conditions.